Our journey through a prenatal Trisomy 21 (Down syndrome) diagnosis and beyond

I wish it were possible to recognize at the beginning of our life’s story what an incredible journey we are truly on. If so, I would have sat down years ago and begun documenting all the ordinary and extraordinary events in this amazing life I have been blessed with. Sometimes, though, it may take just one more thing to open your eyes into the beauty of the life you have led and causes you to pause and truly count the blessings that are now so many they will never be enumerated.

If you are just joining us, please go back to September 2012 to get caught up.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Becoming a mom

Becoming a mom is one of the most unexplainable events of a lifetime.

Those who are there can understand what I mean.

For me, it began with a tough start.  

We found out I was pregnant and were thrilled.  I was so anxious/excited/nervous/thrilled after getting confirmation from the doctor. We went for our first appointment and they couldn’t hear a heartbeat, so they scheduled us for an ultrasound.  We brought a video tape (this was November 2003—VHS was still around) to record the first glimpses of our baby.  The ultrasound tech popped in the video, squirted the gel and turned on the machine. 

She never pressed record.  

After giving us a picture of the baby, we moved on to speak with the doctor.  He told us the baby had stopped growing weeks before and had no heartbeat. 

A missed miscarriage. 


The good thing that came from our first pregnancy was our overwhelming desire to have a baby. We knew that is what our future held.  And we couldn’t wait. Unfortunately, it wasn’t in the stars right away.

About a year later, after some additional testing, we finally got the news we hoped for.  I was pregnant and due in June 2005.  

I couldn’t believe the incredible feeling of pregnancy.  Exhausting and exhilarating all at the same time. I loved my changing body.  I sailed through the first trimester and then it all started.

In March, I wasn’t feeling quite right and spoke to my doctor about it.  Being a first time mom, I had NO idea what to look out for. Preterm labor never even entered my thoughts.  That would be the last time I could say that.

After a weekend on bedrest, I was sent to the hospital.  I was 28 weeks and in labor.  They believed my water had broken.  {Now that I know what I know, I should have been scared out of my mind.  I had no idea what having a 28 week baby might entail. I am grateful that I trusted in my husband and doctors to care for us.}

1 week.  I spent a week in the hospital. Much of that week is a fog.  Between the steroid shots and the magnesium sulfate, it was a blur. I do remember feeling incredibly hot all.the.time.  Usually I am freezing.  So a vivid memory remains of me dripping with sweat, begging for another fan, while everyone else in the room was covering up and layering sweatshirts and jackets. They also performed an amnio-type test to see whether my water hadbroken.  Using a very long needle, the doctor inserted dye.  Then we were to wait over the next hours to see if the dye emerged.

The best part, we found out were we expecting a daughter. A baby girl. Our daughter.

We spent the rest of our hospital time brainstorming girl names. A fantastic distraction. 

After no dye presented itself and the contractions were successfully stopped (thank you to several medications), we were sent home on bedrest.  It was Easter Sunday and I was thrilled to be home.  I spent the next few weeks home on bedrest.  I was lucky to have my mom and mother-in-law visiting often and my friends to stop by and fend off boredom. 

On Monday, April 11, something was not right.  I knew it, but was a bit scared of what was really going on.  My mother in law drove me to the doctor and I was sent to the hospital. Contractions were on again and I was progressing in labor.  I was 32weeks.

That evening my water did break (officially) and I knew we would be meeting our little girl.  After a few short hours (I do remember watching the Bachelor!) I got an epidural and we were moved to a birthing suite to get a bit of rest before the big moment.  The moms were both there and had found a space on the floor to rest for a bit.  Ironically, I believe they had just gotten the pullout bed ready for Brian when I asked to go to the bathroom.  {Apparently, that is code in labor and delivery and I had no idea what was going to happen next.  I thought it meant I would be using the bathroom.  Little did I know!}

Within minutes, the room was transformed and there were a gaggle of staff from the floor, including the NICU.  I began pushing at bit after 1 am on April 12 and our tiny Katelyn Elizabeth was born at 1:21 am.  

4 pounds.  8 ounces. 
She cried.  The most glorious sound EVER.

They rushed her to the NICU for evaluation and Brian was able to go be with her.  A short time later, it was me and a nurse left in the room. I remember making some phone calls at 2 am. I was alone and scared and desperate to really see my baby. Patience. This was the first of my lessons as a parent.
Brian returned and updated me.  Kate was doing well.  They were giving her an IV and monitoring her closely.  It was the best news I had EVER heard in my life.  

We called the moms in and told them that their newest grandchild had arrived.  They were in disbelief and it took a bit of convincing and a trip to the NICU with dad to fully believe it.  

I think back to that time and how much faith I required.  Having a child in the NICU is an experience that I wouldn’t wish on anyone. It was also much different than the NICUs of 2013.  No private rooms.   A movable curtain of privacy.  Leaving my daughter every night. It was up early at the hospital, sit by her bedside all day in hopes of a diaper change or feeding, and leaving late at night. Only to do the same thing the next day. We spent 30 days of hands-on parenting with training.  It was a rollercoaster of emotions, but in the end we brought our baby girl home the day after Mother’s Day.
For me, it is a strange holiday.  I fully understand and appreciate the sentiment behind it.  But my first Mother’s day was not at all what I envisioned. It was kind of crummy, in fact.  I thought I was bringing my baby home, but needed to wait 1 more day.

What is Mother’s Day for me?

It is a reminder that my job description is not glamorous. My dress code is now yoga pants and my favorite tee or sweatshirt. My daily schedule is not ultra-exciting.  The goals I aim for have shifted dramatically.  But it is truly the BEST and MOST WORTHWHILE work I have ever done.

I am exhausted, but energized by a smile, spoken word of understanding or move towards further independence.  

I am hungry, but my soul is fulfilled in watching my children grow into the people of faith and character they will become.

I am not always freshly showered, but liberated in the sandbox of life with my kids.

I am a mom.

And to my kids, that is enough and more.

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